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Preview: Swans v Saints

Dinny Navaratnam  May 17, 2017 8:38 AM

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Swans midfielder Dan Hannebery breaks away from St Kilda opponent David Armitage.

SUMMARY
Looking at the ladder in isolation would suggest a one-sided clash, with the sixth-placed St Kilda facing a Sydney team in 15th spot. That seems a simplistic view though. After going winless through the first six rounds, the Swans are back on track after beating the Brisbane Lions and North Melbourne. More importantly, their midfield stars in Josh Kennedy, Dan Hannebery and Luke Parker were in excellent touch against the Kangaroos last week. Flying back to Victoria to play at Etihad Stadium on a six-day break could be a tough ask but John Longmire's men have shown over the years they relish a challenge. The Saints will be up for the task, having shown their resolve to run away with victory against Greater Western Sydney in round seven. Jack Steven is maintaining is high standards while Seb Ross has taken his game to the next level. Those two will again need to be at their best for Alan Richardson's side to come away with a fourth-straight win. 

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday, May 20, 1.45PM AEST 

LAST FIVE TIMES
R21, 2016, Sydney 23.8 (146) d St Kilda 11.10 (76) at Etihad Stadium
R22, 2015, Sydney 20.15 (135) d St Kilda 4.14 (38) at Etihad Stadium
R21, 2014, Sydney 19.13 (127) d St Kilda 8.8 (56) at the SCG
R21, 2013, Sydney 18.10 (118) d St Kilda 8.11 (59) at the SCG
R5, 2013, Sydney 11.13 (79) d St Kilda 9.9 (63) at Westpac Stadium

THE SIX POINTS
1. Sydney led by five points at the main break last time these sides played before kicking 15 goals to four in the second half. Lance Franklin finished with six goals while Dan Hannebery (37 disposals) and Josh Kennedy (35) were prolific.

2. In the opening six rounds of the season, the Swans averaged 75 points while conceding 98 per game. In the last two weeks, that's changed to 127 and 79 respectively.

3. Sydney has won six straight against St Kilda, and eight of the last nine. The smallest margin in the last four games is 59 points.

4. The Saints are second for marks inside 50 this season, averaging 13.8 per game. The Swans are equal-eighth with an average of 12.4.

5. St Kilda holds a narrow advantage over Sydney at Etihad Stadium, having won six games to four. There's been one draw but the Swans have won the last two by a combined 167 points.

6. Saints onballer Jack Steven is up to a career-high ninth spot in the Schick AFL Player Ratings.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR… Jake Carlisle.
The key defender has improved in his return season and was recruited to stiffen what had been an undersized backline. Regardless of whether Carlisle mans Swans superstar Lance Franklin directly, the Saint's aerial presence will be crucial in stopping 'Buddy'.

AFL.com.au PREDICTION: Sydney by three points.